Why you should stop watching The Notebook, according to experts

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Kayleigh Dray
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The Notebook has long been held up as one of the greatest romantic movies of our time. From the schmaltzy ending, to that sizzling kiss in the rain, the Nicholas Sparks drama is packed full of iconic scenes – and Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling’s performance has inspired a lot of fans to “love one another with all my heart and soul” over the years.

Relationship experts, though, aren’t impressed with the flick. At all.

Time Out recently sat down with a group of romantic experts and asked them to produce a list of the best and worst romantic films. The list was wide and varied (and most definitely worth a read) but the most surprising inclusion was The Notebook.

So what did the Nicholas Sparks film do wrong?

Well, according to Relate counsellor and psychotherapist Gurpreet Singh, the 2004 hit may wax lyrical about love, but it does so whilst perpetuating an unhealthy myth of perfection.

“Noah restores a house for Allie,” says Singh. “He writes letter after letter waiting for her. They die holding hands. Talk about idealised love!”

Singh continues: “If you believe in [The Notebook’s love story], you start to think, ‘I shouldn’t settle for less’.

“But most average couples are nothing like that. We are humans, we are fallible. Love is imperfect because we are.”

In The Notebook’s defence, it’s worth remembering that Noah does declare that a long-term relationship is “not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard [and] we’re gonna have to work at this every day” – but we see Singh’s point.

So what film should we be watching if we want a more honest (and helpful) approach to love?

Singh says we need to head to a galaxy far, far, away if we want a “realistic” romantic movie.

We’re talking about Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith.

“If you want to look on the dark side, nothing demonstrates a dysfunctional relationship better than Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker,” points out Singh. “It didn’t end happily, but it is realistic. She was older, he was younger and infatuated. Even if you forget the age difference, there were so many signs that the relationship was toxic.”

Sitting down to a film which doesn’t put love up on a pedestal is always worth doing, says Singh, because it teaches you some valuable lessons in the process.

And, through watching Padmé and Anakin fall apart, we’re reminded that “a good relationship is based on communication, shared values and respect”.

“They failed to communicate effectively,” says Singh. “Rather than dealing with it, problems were ignored.”

Hmm. This should make our next movie night very interesting indeed…

Images: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.